We’re constantly told that exercise is a good thing, and with the New Year, many people are revved up to hit the gym. But are you exercising correctly? Because if you aren’t, you may be hurting your back.
At Pinnacle Pain and Spine, interventional pain specialists Dr. Matthew Crooks and Dr. Stuart Rammell recommend that our patients work out to help lose weight, tone their bodies, and feel better overall.
Unfortunately, though, some people make critical mistakes that end up hurting their backs. While our team can certainly treat an injured back, we’d rather you not get hurt in the first place.
Here are a number of common mistakes people make when working out that can hurt your back — and other body parts too.
It’s common to pick up an exercise routine by watching what other people do at the gym, even though they may be doing it wrong. Also common is emulating your friends, coworkers, or people online or on TV. What’s right for them isn’t necessarily right for you.
To start, write down your goals and what you’re currently capable of doing. Then meet with a professional trainer to design the right workout for you to meet those goals with your abilities.
You may save a few minutes by not warming up, but your body will let you know that was a very bad idea.
Your tissues need the warmup to increase your body temperature and get your blood flowing, as well as help loosen your muscles so you have greater range of motion. Light walking, jogging, or biking for 5-10 minutes should do the trick.
You’re more likely to hurt your muscles, including those in your back, or make them tighter if you bounce while you stretch. Hold each stretch steady for 20-30 seconds, then move on to the next one.
If you want to get good results, do each of the exercises correctly. Form matters, especially when doing any strength training exercise. Incorrect form sets you up for soreness, pain, and a host of potential injuries, including to your back.
In a related topic, poor posture in general can lead to a variety of ills, especially neck and back pain. And this is certainly the case when exercising.
For example, if you’re lifting weights, keep your back straight, your shoulders back and relaxed, and your knees unlocked. And when you lift, do so from your legs, not from your back.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you have limitations, especially if you’re first starting out with an exercise routine.
Never try to lift more weight than you can handle; it sets you up for serious injury. When you’re ready to increase, add only a little weight at a time and get comfortable with that before taking it further.
Even if your goal is to get stronger, always training with the heavy weights is a sure way to get hurt, and it can actually prevent you from adding muscle.
Mix things up. Use a lighter weight but do more reps, and do fewer reps with the heavier weights. Try to vary your workouts with moderate weights, heavy weights, and light weights on different days.
If you do get injured, our team at Pinnacle Pain and Spine can get you the treatment you need to recover fully. To get started, call us at any of our Arizona locations — Scottsdale, Chandler, or Fountain Hills — or send us a message online.